It’s Hard Not to Look Back-When Your World is Rocked

You know that feeling, when you wake up after a terrible dream, and feel so relieved when you realize it was just. a. dream.  Today when I woke up, it wasn’t just a bad dream.   It’s real.  This week has been a really tough week, professionally.  (Steve and the kids are all okay. We all had our first day of school and all was well.  The kids were happy but stressed about pleasing their teachers.)  There was a whole other under layer in the events of this week that brought me to my knees and made me question the reality we live in as educators. The field of education can chew you up and spit you out.   The words that come to mind are– blindsided, anxiety-ridden, depressed, hopeless, & helpless.   I can’t speak any more specifically to this event. (I did ask for consent to post this.)  However, sometimes living our lives in education is a lot like the rock cycle, you are pressed and pressed and eventually you become sedimentary rock.  Rocks can be a metaphor for strength, but the process of being pressed is excruciating.

In 1996, when I worked at Charter Oak Hospital (now Aurora Behavioral Health) I was in the psychiatric unit as a psych aide with severe emotionally disturbed children.  A nine-year-old boy, bit me hard.  It was his way of exerting some control in his out-of-control world.  This was all because I’d asked him to give his passive mother back her sunglasses as she was leaving the psych unit on her daily visit. He refused, and when I verbally challenged him to give her back the sunglasses, he bit me with all the force a nine-year-old mouth can give.  (I still have the scar as a reminder.)  Shocked, I promptly forgot all the training I’d received on how to handle human bites (obviously this is a frequent occurrence, if there’s a training on it) and proceeded to pull my wrist away in my best attempt to escape from the bite.  I had to call a ‘Strong Arm’ alert (because I was alone on the unit) and all the psych aides from other units converged and put this young boy in a straight jacket as was protocol.  ‘Pulling away from the bite’ was not what I’d been taught.  When someone bites you, your instinct is to pull away. Instead, pushing in to the bite is the best way to release the hold.

Situations that we aren’t prepared for, often make us want to pull away.  This bite incident has become a lifelong metaphor for struggle and hardship. I often want to pull away and isolate.  This recent professional incident has made me angry, frustrated, helpless and withdrawn.   In my heart,  I do know there’s only one solution: compassion.  This is my way of pushing into the bite, having compassion.

We can choose to blame and hypothesize about another’s pain, but until we’ve walked a mile in their shoes, we cannot and should not speak as experts.  What we should do is listen, remain calm, and love deeply.

Where do I get these wild ideas?  Turns out, it goes back to scripture.  Back to the biblical text I grew up reading. The teachings of Jesus are not common.  They are not easily understood.  When your world is rocked you have to revisit your compass and try to understand why.  The set north of my compass is “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I think my world has been rocked, but the world of another has been rocked even more. What do I do with this?  How do I help?  We’re all going to experience hardship. We’re all going to experience a low point in life.  What do we do with that?  How do we help someone in crisis?  I don’t attempt to know the answers to these questions, so I just feel my way through it.  I know God has given me a special sense of the pain of others because I’ve felt pain deeply.  Deeply. The upside to this deep pain, is consequently a deep love.  So as I sit here writing, tears flow. Tears flow for the pain of another.  It’s okay to cry, grieve, and feel the loss.   This is where the love flows in.  You have to feel the pain.

When your world is rocked to the core by separation, divorce, loss, injustice, and misunderstanding what do you do?   I do know that no love is as random as God’s love…

Have a listen to Wilco’s, I Can’t Stand It…  This song makes me want to scream along.  I believe my prayers will be answered, unlike Jeff Tweedy’s mantra here.

Obviously, this wasn’t a funny post, as was my post last week.  I did tell 2016-17 to Bring It!  It certainly did… like a raging tornado on a hot summer day.

This is my life.  I’ve lived with Joy for a long time and she ain’t always joyful, but she hangs in.  I’m going to keep hanging in with you through the heartache, tears, and joy.

Innocence Mission’s God is Love has been a source of comfort to me today, as music has been throughout my life.  I hope it comforts you too.

Rain or shine
This street of mine is golden
Rain or shine
This street of mine is golden

With the gold of hickory leaves
I can walk under these clouds
Rain or shine
This street of mine is golden

God is love
And love will never fail me
God is love
And love will never fail me

If I’m driving there today
And I really am this afraid
God is love
And love will never fail me

Some birds I know are moving on this weekend
Some birds I know are moving on this weekend
And I’m under the sky, I am on the ground, with my coat
Some birds I know are moving on this weekend

God is love
And love will never fail me
God is love
And love will never fail me

And some days I will decide
To let everything else go by
God is love
And love will never fail me
Love will never fail me

The picture attached to this post is me, at age 4 or so.  I’m hopeful today, just like the the face of little gap-toothed four-year-old Joy is in this photo.  I am looking back a bit and reflecting this week, but I’m still hopeful.

Until next week.  Love you loves.


Gastric Bypass Update:

I’ve made it to 70 pounds of weight, lost.  That doesn’t feel all that important in light of this week’s events.

Bring it, 2016-17!

What?  Skunk face?  Yeah, I just daydreamed, while watering my garden in the dark, (because I can’t remember things until my kids go to bed) that a skunk came cruisin’ by, minding his own business and I startled him.  I got skunked.  I panicked (remember, this is a daydream/nightmare) and realized I’d have to go to my first day of school smelling like a skunk.  Ugh.  I borrow trouble in my head.  Does anyone else do this?  Gosh, I daydream about ridiculous scenarios that will never happen.  In the skunk episode, I then proceeded to picture myself in the bathtub all weekend soaking in tomato juice.  (Oh brother, gimme a break Joy, don’t you have better things to think about? This is my sick way of procrastinating.  I have so much to do, that the alternative of sitting in a bath of tomato juice sounds appealing.  You can say it, I’ve got prollems.) (Misspelling intentional.)

<<<insert eye twitch emoji here>>> (Oh that’s right, there is no eye twitch emoji.  What? Get with the program emoji-making-people and make me an eye twitch emoji.  I’ve been asking for years now.  It would complete my frequently-used emoji package.)

These things have been on my Home To Do List all summer and are completely unfinished: selling the pop up camper (Anyone want one? This is a shameless advertisement because I really need to check this off my To Do list), decluttering my bedroom so I can easily pack it up when the time comes, renting a storage pod at over $200 a month (because I’ve got money growing out of my ears, right?) so we can store all the stuff in our bedroom while our room is remodeled, remodeling our bedroom right at the beginning of the school year! YAY! (This is what I’ve always wanted. We couldn’t do it earlier until we heard back from the County, which was last week.)

Next, contractor estimates and figuring out where the money is going to come from and how much it’s going to cost to do the cross beams in our bedroom and studio ceilings, add 4 windows, add a hallway, move the exterior wall in two feet (yeah, an epic battle with the County will soon be lost, Guiles-0/County-1), and build a carport that we’re going to call ‘Glorified Shade’, because we’re never going to park a car in it.  But, that doesn’t matter to the County.  Sounds like cha-ching to me… how about you?

Oh yeah, and I signed up to pilot a new language arts curriculum, yes, because I’m dumb. Really, it’s about control.  I like to be involved in the decision making side of choosing a curriculum that we’re going to have for the next 10 years.  I’m pragmatic and just want to have a curriculum to follow instead of making up my own as I’ve done for the past 5 years.  It’s always nice and helpful to have a teacher’s edition when you’re teaching 25 kids every day.  A plan does help.

I see a ton of training in my future because we’re a computer magnet school and this requires a bit of a learning curve to teach students how to code. I’m excited about this for sure, but apprehensive about fitting everything in. Oh yeah, and make time for lesson planning for math, science, social studies, art and P.E. while you’re at it.  No biggie.

Managing the schedules of a high schooler, middle schooler, and elementary schooler, how did this happen?

Paying bills, oh the bills (echo…bills, bills, bills….)

And I desperately need to go have my van washed.  I’m waiting for the new gas station car wash on Arrow Hwy. in San Dimas to open so I can get my van washed in a drive-thru.  It may be a few more months.  I’m going to blame my awfully dirty van on the water shortage.  (I’m doin’ my part.)

And there’s this piece of what looks like gum, on the bottom frame of the door as you walk into the front door. Not even kidding. Who did this?  It’s a futile question because everyone will say, “I didn’t do it!”  So, I will deal with it.  But really? Who did it and what is it, and am I the only one who notices it?  (I should have been a detective as a profession.)

Cob webs on the porch! Gah!  I’ll get to that in 2 years.

Oh, and dinner.  They always want to know, “What’s for dinner?”  I. Don’t. Know. Little. People.  I. Don’t. Know.

Don’t forget to be a good friend, Joy! Most of the year I am. This is what genuinely care about deeply and is one of the most important things to me,  lovin’ on all y’all. But I get so busy I can’t see through the fog of my To Do list.  Well, most of the time I still try to connect the best I can, and instead, I just get less sleep.

Four, yes, FOUR Back-to-School nights over the next couple of weeks.

Maybe I should just stop this post now and go catch up on watching mindless episodes of The Walking Dead (See what I did there? Mindless, heh, heh).

I tell myself,  “You’ll get through this Joy, you always do.  You’ve been doing this teaching thing for 19 years, for goodness sakes.”  It never lets up though. Teachers, can I get an Amen?  There’s always something different every school year.  You make the best of it.  What other choice do you have?

Dinner.  Joy, your kids are NOT going to be the models of healthy eating. Accept it. Ramen, yes. Macaroni, yes.  Occasionally, you’ll whip out the salmon and the taco love. All the other days, fend for yourselves darlin’s.  You’ve watched endless episodes of Chopped, get to work with what’s in the fridge kids!  Show me you’ve learned somethin’ from all that TV watchin’!  C’mon.

I’m tellin’ ya, if one more kid walks in my room sayin’ “MOM!” when I’m in the middle of writing something on my To Do list, I might just shit bricks.  <<<insert shit bricks Bitmoji here>>>  (Oh, once again, disappointed. There is no Bitmoji like this. Your lettin’ me down Bitmoji folks, lettin’ me down.) Seriously. Does this bother anyone else?  I can’t finish my thoughts. “Mom!” “Mom!” “Mom!”  Someday (in 10 years) I’ll be really sad that the kids aren’t rushing in to share and talk to me, but right now, I NEED you to step up outta my grill, yo, (at least until school starts).  The alternative most nights is, staying up uber late (because I’m not a morning person) to finish writing down my thoughts.  If I try to go to bed before said thoughts are written down, I’ll lay in my bed repeating the list over and over again, obsessively, so I don’t forget.  So, I might as well just stay up until my barfy thoughts are all written down.  My brain does feel a little like a vomit-fest.  (Remember that scene from Stand By Me? The one where one person vomits at the pie-eating contest and the whole audience starts to vomit in succession.  That’s my brain. That’s me.  Every. Single. Day. Two. Weeks. Before. School. Starts.)

So, there ya go.  Let the Rat Race begin!  I’m ready for ya 2016-17.  Bring it. (You all feel better now, right?  You are not alone.  There’s always a neurotic friend who’s much worse than you. That’s me!)  Tell me what you’re anxious about.  We can do this friends!

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.



What? A Year, You Say?

Yes, it’s been a year since I decided the Roux en y Gastric Bypass was going to be my next rabbit trail.  Yeah, that picture is me, unfiltered with no makeup, wild-haired and gap-toothed, the real me, yo.   I’ve said often, about hard things in my life, that the time will pass, no matter what I do with it.  I might as well make use of the time, right?  Being stuck sucks. What I had done up until the August-2015-point-on-the-timeline-of-my-life hadn’t worked.  Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results is insane, so I had to do something different.  I did.

There was a lot of torment and fear of the unknown in those months of nutrition appointments and research about what the weight loss surgery would do to my body.  But I’ll tell ya, it was totally worth it. I’d do it all over again.  I had this strong sense that anything would be an easier recovery than back surgery.  I was right.  RYGB was a piece of cake (mmmmm, cake) recovery-wise compared to what I had endured during back surgery.  In fact, I didn’t take any pain killers post RYGB.  The hardest part for me was eating slowly and methodically for 3 months.  If you think about it, that’s a pretty small sacrifice to make for the amount of weight I’ve already lost.  It was like retraining my mouth muscles (muscle memory) to move slower.  I’m not perfect (and will never be), but I know when I eat too fast.  I avoid foods that get stuck easily (usually a bread/meat combination).  Overall, the transition has been so much better than I expected.

Here’s a link to my very first blog entry: August 2015 post. This is when the rabbit trail began.

If you’re stuck in a loop, change.  Do something different.  The time will pass, and it’s all about what you do with the time that changes everything.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.


*This week is a shorter post because I’ve got a lot of anxiety about going back to work. Not just going back to work, but getting the kids ready to go back to school.  It’s a crazy busy time of year.  I’ll write more about anxiety next week.


Corner of Order and Chaos

Gah, my house.

“I’m tired of you leaving your crap everywhere!”  (Sidenote: I’d like to take this moment to pause and warn you all that ‘crap’ is a very bad word to some people.  Years ago, I used this word in my classroom in front of my students and a parent called and complained to the superintendent. Yeah, that happened.  Oh boy.  Needless to say, I don’t use this word anymore in my classroom.  This wasn’t my proudest moment.)   “Get your crap outta here,” is what both of us have said to our kids on numerous occasions, but the fact is… the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

When I get home from work, I don’t want to clean. Can I get an AMEN?!

My house is actually a barrier to connection for me right now.  I don’t want any of you to see what kind of disarray I’m living in.


Let’s start with the couch.  Last summer, we bought a cute black pleather sectional off Craig’s list.  It was sleek, modern and perfect for our living room.  Now, its totally trashed.  It started with a little tiny piece of the pleather that peeled off.  I had hoped that our cats wouldn’t use the couch as a scratching post as they had done with the previous couches.  (They didn’t.  Boo-yah!)  Instead, our cat that we call Libble, who is not so Little, decided that the pleather covering was cramping his style as is, and it would look better to expose the thin white layer of lining underneath.  So whenever his style is cramped, which is often, he walks over and casually starts chewing on the couch!  AHHHHH!  This must happen often when we’re not at home, because now that cute little black sectional looks like peeling aged skin that’s spent hours on the beach.  It ain’t pretty people.  (You’d still sit on my pleathered aged couch if I had you over, right?  I do cook fabulous food.)  Why is it that this bothers me so much?  Furniture that looks less than presentable.  I know its not a reflection of me.  But, on some level, I must feel like it is.  I think it makes me feel vulnerable, like I don’t have my shit together because I have a couch that is peeling.  I’m weird.  But you already knew that.

Moving toward Order (in my head only, you gotta start somewhere)

I also don’t want to pay for someone to clean my house. We all know you have to clean and tidy BEFORE the house cleaner comes.  It’s a viscious cycle.  My sister told me about this imagesbook called, the life-changing magic of tidying up, (I’m not capitalizing this title because apparently Japanese books about tidying do not need to be capitalized because it makes the title more tidy) about the Japanese
cleaning style of dealing with clutter.  I don’t have time to read the book. Ugh.  I only have more week of summer and do I really want to spend my free time reading about decluttering?  If you saw my house, you’d say, “Hells yeah!”  But it’s a lot of commitment, decluttering.  I’ll need to rent a dumpster.  For realz.  Maybe I could upcycle some of my junk, but let’s be real, some of this stuff is just trash, basura, dumster-ready and should be kicked to the curb.

Housekeeper Shmousemeeper

I did have someone clean my house at one point and the house cleaner gave me a hard time about how much she had to clean. It was SO MUCH more work than some of the other houses she cleaned.  Oh brother.   I said to myself like, “Do I have to feel shame about how ‘dirty’ my house is, really?  That’s why I hired someone.  I need help.”  So, when she moved, I conveniently (or inconveniently) didn’t hire anyone else.  All that to say, since back surgery (in 2011) and probably two years prior to that, rigorous house cleaning was uber challenging physically.  Vacuuming and mopping would set my back off and I’d be down for the count for a few days.  It didn’t take much, (turns out that 10mm bulging disc sitting on my nerve really wasn’t my imagination.)

Reasons (ahem, excuses) for not decluttering

Reason #1:  I don’t want to fill the landfills with my junk. (I am SUCH an environmentalist, not.)   I feel bad when I throw stuff away that someone else might use.  I’m not worthy. (Kinda sick right?)

Reason #2: What if I NEED the item I’m trashing or donating?  Like, I’m going to totally NEED this extra air mattress pump just in case the other one we have dies.

Reason #3: What if there’s a zombie apocalypse and I need this item for a MacGyver-like escape from a zombie?  I mean, this could happen right?  You with me?  Any Walking Dead Fans out there?  It happens all the time… they just need that last bottle of antibiotics found in a dead person’s house to save the life of their living friend. (If I’m dead, I am well stocked with unused bottles of antibiotics and vitamin C and Tums.  A post apocalyptic diet consists of a ton of canned food, so you will need Tums after that can of chile con carne.)

Reason #4: I might want the future generations to have this awesome scarf, because it’s cool and 2016 is going to be amazingly groovy in 2036 and I’m going to regret not keeping this for my Middle and Little.

Reason #5: Time.  It takes so much time to go through all the dressers, drawers and bins.  Who has time for this?  (But I DO have time to binge watch episodes of Stranger Things on Netflix…priorities.)

Breathe Joy, Breathe

Even though you are in the middle of the epic battle of your life over the building code violations and solar panels (that you still cannot use even though they’re lookin’ real pretty up there on the top of the house as a constant reminder that you’re doin’ your part so save electricity, but that’s all, they’re just haute as all get out- a fantastic display of your commitment to the environment) and may have to be displaced from your bedroom for a few months.  And fuuugetabout the line of credit that you’re going to have to take out to fix said building code violations.  Forget that this all started a year ago August.

Breathe Joy, Breathe

Yes, you are insane and teaching two grade levels this year, 3rd and 5th, to make more money to pay off the solar panels that you can’t use yet.  (You like challenges and you’ve done this before.)  Remember the two years you taught with 3 teachers in job shares?  You survived.  Piece of cake.  This school year, you’re just going to teach with two teachers and you’ll just be at one school, not two.  You’ve got this.

Breathe Joy, Breathe

It’s okay—you’ve got a high schooler, middle schooler, an elementary schooler and your school.  Four school schedules to keep track of…(Thank you God for creating the people that invented the google calendar shared calendar feature and smart phones.  I might lose my mind if I had to write all this down in a Day Planner.  The daily boxes aren’t big enough and there’s no ‘Reminder’ section to notify me with an alarmed pop-up notification in a Day Planner.  THOSE were NOT the good ole’ days.)  I Heart Smartphones.

Breathe Joy, Breathe

You don’t have to have everything all figured out.  You don’t have to have pristine floors and a perfect couch.  Your real friends will love you, as is, in the days your world is more ordered and the days with mad chaos.

I’m glad we had this talk.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

I’m feeling a bit of stress this week. My mom’s 70th is on Saturday and friends and relatives I’ve not seen in many years will be there.  I’m excited.

The stress with the house has amped up too.  Long story.  Long story.

As with most of life’s emotions- be it happy, sad, angry, or apathetic, I’ve often coped with, what else? Food.  I haven’t made the best choices with food this week.  I’ve strayed from my routine.  I haven’t gained, just maintained.

I need to get back to the protein shakes and drinking more water.   I can do this.